Decoupling against speaker manufacturer recommendations - But Herbie's says?

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HighRez

Hello, I've read thru all the posts in this section and see that almost universally the recommendation from HAL (Herbie's Audio Lab) is when someone asks about the best Spike/Cone option for their floor-standing speakers the answer always seems to be to Decouple them from the floor they are sitting on when talking about suspended wood floors. OK.. Cool!

One of the benefits mentioned by going this Decoupling route are the reduction in floor borne vibrations and or the reduction of energy transferred via the Spike/Cone to the floor from the speaker. OK Great!

But here are my questions:

1. Why is it said that limiting the amount of engergy transferred to the floor is better than allowing it all to pass as if the cabinet and floor where one piece? My thought is that if you are trapping this energy it must need to go somewhere and if it's not being allowed to pass thru the Spike/Cone then it is most likely being re-transferred back into the speaker cabinet, out of phase and out of timing from the orignal sound event. Why is this considered better than Coupling which would have the opposite effect?

2. If Decoupling is always better (assuming the original scenerio) than why do certain speaker manufacturers seem to say the opposite approach is better (i.e..Coupling)? I own Magico speakers and they say to Couple them. Who's right? Herbie or the Manufacturer?

3. What are Herbie's credentials in the field of resonance/vibrational control/behavior and why would someone choose Herbies path over the manufacturers recommendation?

I should mention that I own several HAL products and like what they do so lease don't take these questions as a knock against the HAL product line, I'm genuinely interested in knowing who is more "Right" and why. I need a path to continue down verses always reading conflicting info on the Interwebs on this subject

Thanks for your time and any insight you can provide

paul79

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I hear what you are saying. I think sometimes it is best to couple, sometimes it is best to isolate. There are things to consider when doing each of these, like the materials you will be coupling to, or the component in question.

Ultimately, you have to try it for yourself. I absolutely prefer my speakers decoupled from the slab floor (spikes on carpet on slab floor). Didn't take long at all to determine what I preferred. This was with 2 different sets of speakers in this particular room.

My current speakers have satellites attached to bass bins with spikes.
I use Herbie Giant Gliders under the bass bins.
I tried using some fat dots between the satellites and bass bins for even further isolation, and I didn't like this result, and put the spikes back on the satellites.

However, I have determined that I prefer speakers isolated from slab floor. No experience with wood floors and speakers, so I cannot say for this.

charmerci

Because coupling to a suspended wooden floor sets the floor vibrating and could possibly be in resonance with the speaker itself. Coupling to a solid (e.g. concrete) floor increases the mass of the speaker and reduces vibration in the speaker itself.

S Clark

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I want to point out that here on Audio Circle the moniker HAL is more commonly used by Hollis Audio Lab, or Rich Hollis- just to avoid confusion.  I think that most of us just call Herbie's "Herbie's".  Both offer great products. 

HighRez

Over the last week I've been comparing my Speaker/Spike direct coupled approach that I have been using for the last 8mo verses using the Herbie Titanium Cone/Spike Decoupling Gliders under my speakers.

My direct coupled method is simply having the spike in direct contact with my hardwood floors. This method results in the Spike sinking into the floor a few mm and the speaker being damn near cemented in place with no movement or wobble in any direction.

The difference in sound between the two approaches is quite different from one another but I haven't yet been able to put my finger on which one I like better or maybe a more appropriate way of saying this would be, which one sounds more "right/genuine".

My speakers also came with their own aluminum disks that the Spikes are meant to rest in and I plan on trying those as well to see what sound they bring to the table and I suspect using these factory provided cups would also fall into the Coupling method but more for the Sissy's who don't want to poke holes in their hardwoods   :lol:   ... Who knows, maybe they are more than just floor protectors but I'll find out soon enough.

I can certainly confirm though that while using the Herbie cups there is a fairly substantial reduction in floor vibration compared to the direct spiked approach. With that said, part of me keeps thinking the vocals have lost some of their human' ness while the bass seems to have tightened a bit. In general the soundstage seems to have shrunk a bit and music seems to not fill the room as well as before which could be a good or bad thing depending on what one prefers.

Will see how it goes



Dieterle Tool

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I have always been under the impression it is best to couple to a solid floor and de-couple from a floating floor.

I built stands for my Maggies and coupled them to my basement floor, wow, it was a major improvement.

Dieter

Herbie

Hello, HighRez. Speaker cabinet vibrations are absorbed, not deflected, by dBNeutralizer-based products such as Herbie's Cone/Spike Decoupling Gliders. Vibrations are not re-transferred back to the speaker cabinet. When coupling to the floor with spikes, whether hardwood/suspended or solid/concrete, some speaker-generated vibrations reverberate from the floor right back up the spikes the way they came, introducing glare, coloration, subtle out-of-phase dislinearity and other anomalies into the music. Speaker-generated floorborne vibrations can sometimes also infiltrate the audio rack and cause distortion within rack components. A host of other floorborne vibrations from acoustic sound waves, refrigerators, air conditioning and etc. also interfere with sonic integrity of speakers coupled to the floor.

Despite its drawbacks, coupling to the floor is always better than nothing at all, and considerably better than most decoupling materials like rubber or Sorbothane, which have resonance issues that adversely affect sonic linearity. Thus we have speaker manufacturers recommending spikes. However, in most cases isolation/decoupling with Herbie's dBNeutralizer-based products is even better. An abundance of customer feedback overwhelmingly indicate better bass definition, truer tonal texture with less glare/harshness, and subtle improvements throughout the audio spectrum compared to using just spikes.

Herbie's Audio Lab has experimented and auditioned extensively for more than a decade with audio vibration control, inventing unique materials and products for specific use with audio parameters. These products are not the result of conjecture or theory but rather of extensive trial/audition and have been proven over and over by actual results from more than 10,000 customers. Herbie's path is not so much a choice over manufacturers' recommendations but rather an augmentation of loudspeaker manufacturers' experience and expertise in the field.

Steve Herbelin
Herbie's Audio Lab

HighRez

Hello, HighRez. Speaker cabinet vibrations are absorbed, not deflected, by dBNeutralizer-based products such as Herbie's Cone/Spike Decoupling Gliders. Vibrations are not re-transferred back to the speaker cabinet. When coupling to the floor with spikes, whether hardwood/suspended or solid/concrete, some speaker-generated vibrations reverberate from the floor right back up the spikes the way they came, introducing glare, coloration, subtle out-of-phase dislinearity and other anomalies into the music. Speaker-generated floorborne vibrations can sometimes also infiltrate the audio rack and cause distortion within rack components. A host of other floorborne vibrations from acoustic sound waves, refrigerators, air conditioning and etc. also interfere with sonic integrity of speakers coupled to the floor.

Despite its drawbacks, coupling to the floor is always better than nothing at all, and considerably better than most decoupling materials like rubber or Sorbothane, which have resonance issues that adversely affect sonic linearity. Thus we have speaker manufacturers recommending spikes. However, in most cases isolation/decoupling with Herbie's dBNeutralizer-based products is even better. An abundance of customer feedback overwhelmingly indicate better bass definition, truer tonal texture with less glare/harshness, and subtle improvements throughout the audio spectrum compared to using just spikes.

Herbie's Audio Lab has experimented and auditioned extensively for more than a decade with audio vibration control, inventing unique materials and products for specific use with audio parameters. These products are not the result of conjecture or theory but rather of extensive trial/audition and have been proven over and over by actual results from more than 10,000 customers. Herbie's path is not so much a choice over manufacturers' recommendations but rather an augmentation of loudspeaker manufacturers' experience and expertise in the field.

Steve Herbelin
Herbie's Audio Lab

Thanks for the info Steve, much appreciated.

Of course I now have a few more questions based on the answers you provided   :green:

So the "DbNeutralizer" is the secret sauce responsible for catching/trapping..etc all the vibrations coming from the speaker cabinet being drained to the floor via its Spike/Cone. Very Cool!

With this in mind then I am going to assume that the more "DbNeutralizer" housed within a given product the better. So if I were to change out my standard HAL Titanium SC Decoupler for a Giant version I should be even better off assuming the Giant version does raise the tweeter height much more than the standard version has already (which of course is one negative effect any product of this type has against it).

How realistic is it to think that X 4 Giant or even Standard HAL Titanium SC Decouplers would be able to absorb and ideally "black hole" a large percentage of resonance/vibration coming from the Spike/Cone of a 150lb aluminum cabinet speaker? This falls back to my previous mention of cabinet material and recommending the ideal foot based on that knowledge. It's my understanding that an Aluminum cabinet speaker would be transmitting quite a bit more energy to the floor compared to a wooden version so I would be interested in your thoughts on this scenerio and if the foot used would change based on that info?

Thanks

Herbie

Difference in speaker height between regular and Giant Cone/Spike Decoupling gliders is less than 1/4", which is acoustically insignificant with virtually any system. Giant Cone/Spike Decoupling Gliders raise the speakers just slightly more than 1/2" higher than they would be without the Gliders.

Gliders are highly efficient and effective, so "more is better" isn't always an essential factor; it's more a matter of the vibrational environment the Gliders are dealing with. Of course, Giant Gliders have much more vibration absorbing and blocking "beef" so have greater potential to handle the demands of larger speakers and more severe vibrations. A 150-pound speaker has potential to generate a lot of mechanical acoustical energies and Giant Gliders would be more likely to handle the job than regular Gliders. (As a rule of thumb, we recommend Giant Gliders for speakers weighing about 120 pounds or more. If you're getting satisfactory results with regular Gliders, however, there wouldn't necessarily be any need to change.)

Raising the speakers a small amount isn't necessarily a negative; it's just as often acoustically beneficial.

Steve
Herbie's Audio Lab

DaveC113

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I'd also say that I've had the best luck with isolating/decoupling speakers. Sounds better to me and prevents sympathetic vibration of random stuff in your house.

ohenry

I want to point out that here on Audio Circle the moniker HAL is more commonly used by Hollis Audio Lab, or Rich Hollis- just to avoid confusion.  I think that most of us just call Herbie's "Herbie's".  Both offer great products.

And, although no longer active here, our old friend Jim Hageraman's Hagerman Audio Labs. 

You can't tell the players without a program.  :D

HighRez

Circling back around to this thread after listening to the HAL Titanium Decoupler sliders under my speakers over the last week or so. If you recall from my previous post that I was directly spiking my speakers to the floor via the factory supplied spikes before which is the recommend method the manufacturer says to use in all cases.

Alon Wolf of Magico has been on record saying that anything but direct coupling is a bad idea for his speakers.

Well Mr Wolf....after taking a good listen using your speakers and Mr Herbie's Gliders under my Magico S3's I have come to the conclusion that Mr Wolf is FOS! It took me a little while to grasp what I was hearing at first but I'm now confident that everything sounds much better with the Herbie Gliders in place than it did using the direct coupling method. The funny thing is, I was first using the Herbie Gliders from day one with these speakers and than at some point along the way decided to try the direct couple approach after reading Wolf's comments. Since the differences are not immediately apparent I just took the Mr Magoo approach and assumed Wolf was right  :duh: :nono: Wolf, I want my wasted 6mo back now please  :evil:

For now Mr Herbie, please take a bow for offering a great product at a reasonable price that does what it advertises to do  :thumb:

With all that said though, I've now gotten a taste of the other side. Never a thing for the wallet and have now ordered a full set of Stillpoints Ultra SS feet for my speakers. I intend to do another comparison with the Herbie product once they arrive. If Herbie still reigns supreme in this shootout all won't be lost since I will then just use the Stillpoints under a few unisolated components at which time Herbie can then declare the status of Wizard of isolation  :lol:

Will see how it goes


Photon46

I might also note that talented designers of products with generous price points unconstrained by costs differ on this subject. Magico's designer is in the spiking /coupling camp whereas the designer of my Tidal speakers falls in the decoupling camp and they came with Cerapuc type decoupling feet. In the end, I think some of us simply prefer the sound of certain distortions and resonances. I rather doubt Alon Wolf hasn't spent time listening to decoupling products under his speakers and it's obvious he prefers the sound of spikes.

Reading Steve's response to your question does raise a question in my mind. Here is the section I refer to:

Despite its drawbacks, coupling to the floor is always better than nothing at all, and considerably better than most decoupling materials like rubber or Sorbothane, which have resonance issues that adversely affect sonic linearity. Thus we have speaker manufacturers recommending spikes. However, in most cases isolation/decoupling with Herbie's dBNeutralizer-based products is even better. An abundance of customer feedback overwhelmingly indicate better bass definition, truer tonal texture with less glare/harshness, and subtle improvements throughout the audio spectrum compared to using just spikes.

Herbie's Audio Lab has experimented and auditioned extensively for more than a decade with audio vibration control, inventing unique materials and products for specific use with audio parameters. These products are not the result of conjecture or theory but rather of extensive trial/audition and have been proven over and over by actual results from more than 10,000 customers. Herbie's path is not so much a choice over manufacturers' recommendations but rather an augmentation of loudspeaker manufacturers' experience and expertise in the field.

In the first paragraph, Steve is comparing his augmented silicone isolation products to other vibration absorbent products like Sorbothane and claims his products are free of, or less subject to, "resonance issues that adversely affect sonic linearity." He then says his results aren't the result of conjecture and theory - but doesn't provide any real proof. No accelerometer tests showing before and after waterfall test plots of speakers cabinets. Instead we are told the subjective impressions of listeners are the "proof." While thousands of listeners may prefer the sound of Herbie's isolation products, that doesn't provide proof that they're doing what Steve claims IMO. It may mean that Herbie's silicone based products have a different set of resonance characteristics that the human ear finds more attractive than sorbothane. I'm not knocking the functionality or results his products bestow, just saying this explanation of why these results happen is little unconvincing. I'm not the sort that thinks we have an analytical objective test for every parameter of audio perception ( my ears tell me cable differences DO matter :lol: But I  do think that until we have such tests available, we have to keep our minds open to the possibility that our explanations of why things sound different that we can't measure sound the way they do.

Again, I'm not knocking Steve or the efficacy of his products - just wondering out loud as to the nature of our understanding about why things sound the way they do.

Herbie

Herbie's Audio Lab's research and development has not occurred without extensive objective help and verification such as oscilloscope/accelerometer measurements. However, we feel that the ultimate determiner of audio performance is by far the human ear. Much of the subtle nuance and defining ambience of music registers within the electronic noise floor of measuring equipment and you can neither hear what the results are of a graphic visual representation nor can you discern any particular colorations or character.

Though we don't have specific Glider products' objective measurements featured on our website, here are a couple of objective examples of product development results:

http://herbiesaudiolab.net/sqfaq.htm (scroll down the page)
http://herbiesaudiolab.net/bhtest.htm

Steve
Herbie's Audio Lab